Life really does seem to go by in the blink of an eye. Turning 40 seems to have a magical hold over people. Some fear it, while others greet it with excitement. I fall into the latter group.
I’m a firm believer that age is simply a number. I’ve met people who were 90 and living their best lives, while I’ve met people who were 30 and already grumbling about their aches and pains. I choose to live each year to its best – never taking one moment or memory for granted. As Frank Sinatra put it in his song, Young at Heart:
Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you
If you’re young at heart
For it’s hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind
If you’re young at heart
You can go to extremes with impossible schemes
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams
And life gets more exciting with each passing day
And love is either in your heart, or on it’s way
Don’t you know that it’s worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart
For as rich as you are, it’s much better by far
To be young at heart
And if you should survive to 105
Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart
Regarding memories, what can I say about 40 years worth of them?
I’ve been really blessed over the last 40 years to have an endless supply of memories – running the gamut of emotions – to draw on for inspiration moving forward. With my eidetic memory, I’m able to revisit the past in vivid detail. I can recall being four years old and having my mother spin me around in the front yard; going on nature walks with my grandfather in New Jersey; making my first grilled cheese with my mom; learning how to use a jigsaw; building a Globe Theatre replica for ninth-grade literature; celebrating my graduations from high school and college; my first kiss with my wife (it’s in my top five of memories). The list goes on, but you get the idea.
Some of my favorite memories have to do with, big surprise, food and travel.
There have been meals that I wished would never end: my first dinner in a Paris bistro; dinner overlooking Puget Sound in Seattle; my meal of kabobs and pita along a roadside in Jordan; an early dinner of Moroccan delicacies on a patio in Cairo (oh, the chicken livers in pomegranate sauce); and a meal at our favorite (we go there every time) London pub.
Travel experiences have also been a part of my life from the beginning. My grandparents would always take me on road trips to give my mother a break. That was a the start of my wanderlust, and I’ve never looked back. To date, I’ve traveled to 10 countries, visited 47 U.S. states, and touched down on four continents. I’ve walked down Roman roads. I’ve seen the sun rise over Petra in Jordan and the Nile in Egypt. I’ve walked along the shore of the Thames River. I’ve shared a conversation over beer with a new friend in Honduras. I’ve climbed cathedrals and visited tombs. Travel experiences have shaped me and my views in many ways.
The world is a beautiful and delicious place, and I’m grateful to be a part of a global family with brothers and sisters I’ve never (but hopefully will someday) met. With every year, I continue to see the importance and value of joining together as one global community to find solutions to the troubles and difficulties that exist. As I heard one person put it: “We need to build bridges instead of walls.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
While celebrating my past experiences over these last 40 years, I’m also looking with excitement and anticipation at what the future holds.
My original plan for celebrating my 40th birthday was to do something I’ve always dreamed of: hiking the full length of Hadrian’s Wall in northern England. It was going to be a time of quiet reflection, while also experiencing the beauty of that place and its history. It was also going to be even more special because my daughter was going to join me for the adventure. Sadly, the trip, like many other things over the last 12 months, had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It was certainly a disappointment, but the beauty is that the wall isn’t going anywhere. We’re simply moving the plans to another year. The moment will be different, but the experience will be just as wonderful. This last year – the final one in my 30s – has taught me to find more joy in the little moments, even when plans are slightly altered. Life isn’t a sprint, but rather a marathon. Things shouldn’t be rushed, but should be embraced in the moment.
What other goals do I have for the short term? Well, they include:
- Obtaining scuba diving certification
- Obtaining my pilot’s license
- Hiking to the summit of Mount Washington
Long-term goals include:
- Finishing out my visits of the 50 U.S. states – North Dakota, Hawaii, and Alaska are the only ones that remain
- Visiting Antarctica and Cape Horn off Chile
- Traveling to Australia (already being planned for a 20th wedding anniversary)
- Visiting as many places and countries as I possibly can – I just can’t name a few!
There’s just a few notes listed above from lists that are too long to mention. In short, I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to continue to embrace adventure and look for opportunities to explore. I want to taste all that I can – from food to wine. I want to actually live my life.
I’ve always said that I intend to live past my 100th birthday. While I have no control over that – other than living a healthy and active life – I have every intention of doing all that I can to make it happen. This birthday is just another mile marker on my trek toward living the amazing life I’ve been blessed with. I’m just thankful to be on this journey with my amazing wife, my wonderful daughter, my fabulous family, and my awesome friends. All of you add joy and beauty into this journey.